Thursday, December 14, 2017

Suddenly, The Colours Make Sense

(Cooper Young Farmers Market, Memphis, Tennessee - model: Hilaire)

Sage's left hand trembled by her side as she stared at the painting. She heard whispers, many voices, asking why she gave up. Why did you give up? Why did you fall? She closed her eyes as the whispers continued to speak with her. Yes, she had given up. For years, she wanted to be a writer. Make her mark in the world of words because her stories needed to be born. Erupt from her mind like Athena. She went out and conquered, twice, only to fall when she began to question. What am I doing? This is no way to live. The more she gave up, the more the whispers invaded her mind. Although Sage had a Muse, one who consistently fed her mind and energy, she turned that being out. After a year of going deaf, Sage had nothing but a cubicle and fearful comfort. . . . of which brought her to the art museum, a place she used to call one of her alternative homes. Each painting held a mystery for her, giving out their tales to her in the form of minuscule flakes of paint, dried up snatches of conversations made before them, and the dried up ghosts of sweat from the artist as they toiled away to feed their relentless insanity. She came here to be free, perhaps. Sage opened her eyes and stared at the painting, how each colour made its way through the canvas and soon became another and another and another. She took a deep breath then exhaled. Suddenly, she looked down and noticed that her left hand had stopped trembling. She looked up at the painting again as the whispers dwindled down to one voice. One clear voice that whispered her name. She felt phantom arms embracing her from behind while the scent of mint carried to her nose. She took a step towards the painting. Cold hands now covered hers while soft lips touched her neck. He, for now she knew it was a he, told her that in order to return to her world, she must say yes. Will you say yes? he whispered, the lips slowly sliding down her neck. Sage reached out for the painting as he sighed. She whispered yes. His hands became solid as they turned her to face him. Green eyes eyes flecked with gold. Say yes, he said with now full lips as he leaned towards her for that one kiss. Say yes.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

300 Year Old Conversation

(photo by author Michael B. Hinton)

It seemed as though the entire city knew we wanted to talk. With every street came sounds of drunken laughter, flashing blue lights, and perhaps a wedding march or a funeral. Didn't matter. All I knew was that the longer we walked, the longer it took for him to tell me that he was leaving.
"You've got this amazing life ahead of you," he said as we crossed Bourbon Street for the third time, "and I'm just not there with you."
"But why can't you?" I asked as I stared straight ahead, not wanting to see those terrible cold eyes. "Why can't you just be with me?" We stopped on a corner and I finally looked at him for a direction. That used to be our game, back when love was not a question between us. 
He looked at me, smiled a little, then said, "Left." We turned left as he said, "Look, it's not you at all. It's me. Can't you understand that? I'm holding you back." The blue lights flashed in our faces, momentarily blinding us, while the parade danced by us. I peered at the people in the parade and still couldn't decide if they danced for Life or Death. One man dressed in a tuxedo with a black and white mask seemed to be possessed by the Quarter itself as he danced with no regrets. 
"Is it someone else," I ventured to ask as we resumed our walk. 
"You know damn well it isn't. Like I said, it's me." I nodded as a numb feeling crept through my body. We would have to stop walking soon and return to our cars. 
"I need to get home," I said, all feeling from my voice gone. He nodded, I think he did, then we made our way to the parking lot by Jax Brewery. 
"I'll walk you to your car," he said. "Thanks again for wanting to do dinner with me." When we reached my car, he gave me a surprisingly deep hug, allowing me to take in his scent of clean linen for the last time, then he walked away. I watched him cross the street then fade into the night that covered Toulouse Street. He was gone. I sighed, looked at the keys in my hand, then with a grin that came out of nowhere, raced back into the Quarter to find the parade. When I saw the flashing blue lights of the police by Jackson Square, I stopped and watched the parade dance by again. It was a wedding. I danced to the music, as did everyone else. Suddenly, the man with the black and white mask on his face grabbed my hand and proceeded to pull me into the parade. 
"You look like you need to dance," he yelled at me as a new chapter began. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Leaves of the Dead

Although I've only read a handful of Kealan Patrick Burke's stories, I still consider myself to be a BIG fan. He completely hooked me in with Sour Candy (read that story - trust me!) as I flew through it in one sitting. In reading and devouring Dead Leaves: 9 Tales From the Witching Season, my love of his work increased by 158%.

While reading Dead Leaves, I tried to figure out just why I love Burke's version of Horror and then it dawned on me - it's intelligent and scary without unnecessary gore. In fact, as I read the stories, I imagined a small town in which each of the stories "occupies" a part of the town, making it a delight for any Tim Burton or Guillermo del Toro fan. The stories are beautiful in their darkness as they reel you in ever closer to an end that you can't possibly escape. The desire to be seduced by such darkness is dangerous . . . and yet enticing. Welcome to Burke's nightmarish imagination.

I won't go into the stories but I will state that my favourites were Tonight The Moon Is Ours, Haven (the insanity/reality that he describes is simply divine - would love to see this story as a film), and The Toll (probably one of the BEST revenge stories out there). Although all of the stories were well done, those three really stood out for me in my mind. Yet as I stated before, each of these stories would be a wonderful area in a small town that looks normal during 364 days of the year, only to show its true nature on Halloween. The stories involve real people with real decisions to be made, only with a twist that goes horribly wrong, or perhaps dire consequences after a choice was made. Lessons are learned with heavy prices. Burke dares us to turn the page. Even after that last story, you will still want more. You will still want to be a witness, no matter how badly it may affect you.

Kudos to Burke again for being such a top notch Horror author. I look forward to reading Blanky soon and delve into the nightmares that will come afterwards.

Much thanks from the Necropolis.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Unnecessary Attraction

(from Woodruff Fontaine House - Memphis, Tennessee)

"Haven't I met you before?" 
No Hello, nice to meet you, or, I've heard so much about you!. When he said that to me, I felt a stone in my gut. He knew me from somewhere else and I believed him. It was his eyes. I smiled and nodded then mumbled something about getting another cup of tea and walked away. When I turned around, I caught him staring at me. Yes, I wanted to scream, we did meet before but back then, you and I were other people. Other thoughts invaded our minds. You told me that you loved me and I knew of nothing else. Instead, this time around, you are married to a gorgeous woman and I am getting over my relationship with a "hot mess" of a man who loved his work more than I. His eyes followed me everywhere and I refused to give into their messages. All I wanted was to get away from him. Two days later, he sent me a friend request, to which I accepted against my better judgment. A week later, we met for tea and he immediately tried to take my hand. I reached for my lip balm instead. 
"I want to know you again. What we were before this."
I remembered more than him. I remembered our times spent in bed if it rained outside, or when he painted while I read to him. When he died, the first time, I saw his memories slowly turn into fragments. They stayed with him. Now, as he struggled to piece them together again, I wanted him to say my name, the one I used before. Just to hear that one word fall from his lips. I sighed. This was unnecessary, I thought. All of it.
"I came back to find you."
The fragments became solid once more.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Daughter of Many Worlds

I'm ready for my weekend trip to New Orleans, yet I had to do this book review - priorities, ya know!

Well . . . . . Daughter of Destiny . . . . YES! Okay, getting to the actual review:

Daughter of Destiny, as written by author H.C. Playa and published through ProSe Productions, is a rip roaring good time through a not too distant version of Earth, blended with a nice mix of aliens of every kind and a deadly virus. With every page, the reader will go deeper and deeper into Playa's mind and honestly, that's not a bad thing. Buy this book!

The story is thus: Dr. Katarina O'Brien, a molecular biologist living in Memphis, Tennessee, has taken it upon her shoulders to discover a cure for a plague known as the Reaper. She lacks sleep, social graces, and patience but all is forgiven because of the "burden" she carries. The Reaper claims without discrimination. O'Brien is also quite gifted in the ways of mental powers although she has harnessed them quite tightly. Then, late one night, someone breaks through her defense with just a tiny crack. However, it is through this crack that O'Brien's world will change forever as she claims her destiny that is beyond a plague. Add in much action, romance with some really good (cough) sex scenes, and an interesting explanation of the origins of humans and other beings, and this book turns into a page turner that will keep you up for most of the night and day! I will state for the record that if you are triggered by reading forms of abuse, there are several scenes of that nature in this book. However, Playa handles them in such a way that it adds to the strength of O'Brien's character.

Playa is a good friend of mine and so while reading this book, I could hear her voice through O'Brien. Her writing will keep even the most skeptical of readers engrossed. She keeps the action well paced without resorting to cliches or "let's just throw this in for fun!" As for the sex scenes . . . .well done on those! Quite . . . descriptive! She did throw a curve ball and, for a moment, I did get confused. However, when the real reason appeared, everything fell into place, causing me to say, "Ahhh!"

I look forward to reading her other books and grilling her on them (like I did with this one!). This book makes a great gift to give to someone, or to yourself!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Story of a Nude

(Heidi - 6 December 2017)

The people at Brooks Museum of Art decided to have an in house nude drawing session as part of their current exhibition (please check out the exhibit - it's fantastic!). I wasn't really sure what to expect yet when the drawing class began, I decided to try something else. I wanted to write a story about the model. Thirty minutes later, I had a stream of consciousness story.

She stood there, dreaming about her day. The coffee brewed just right that she enjoyed in her favourite chipped mug. The lunch she shared with her lover and how she listened about his latest novel. And now, posing nude in an art museum. She wore a look of calm contentment, confident of herself and her body. The dreamers of the past would have loved her, worshiped her like a goddess, giving her flowers of every colour and scent.
This scene, now, reflected her one moment when the peace of the today and the forgetting of the past come together. She stood poised and offered nothing in the way of apology or forgiveness. She simply was.
A Venus to be sure - white peach skin dimpled here and there, offering just enough to those who sought it out like ambrosia. The artists sketched their many versions of her. She offered it all and restricted nothing. Her legs, supple and smooth, showed that Youth lingered with her. She turned her head and changed from Venus to a queen of human born. Her hair fell in waves down her back and neck. The red robe lay behind her, being patient for the night. She was special, royal blood flowing under her unblemished skin. She held a cane, merely a prop for her strength was more than enough to hold her steady.
All around the room lay the dense quiet, broken here and there by the scratching of pencils held by fluid hands. Several born into art with no choice. One here as a pastime. Still another due to newly won freedom. Yet they all fell under her aloof gaze. And the red robe remained still.
She wants us to stare at her, to gaze at her face and judge her. Do the artists ever see her as her? Is she squiggles and circles to them? A misplaced triangle? Does she now shiver due to the cold, or perhaps because her aloof facade is starting to crack?
Do the artists slowly take from her like starving creatures demanding sustenance? They must create and so they feed. She shivers and trembles as she returns to being a model. The artists continue to hunger for what she represents. She now begins to refuse them. Her thoughts return to her lover. That novel he spoke of earlier - did he mention her in it? Was she the main character's love interest or his destruction? A tragic heroine. An example for the good of all. Did he do that to me, she wonders.

45 seconds called causes a murmur. The pencils move faster. Time is captured. Mistakes are forgiven.

(the model's autograph on my story)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Perhaps It's Better

(Biloxi, Mississippi - photo taken by Kimberly B. Richardson)

Perhaps it's better, Angela thought as David handed her the bouquet of flowers. I have this moment, this one chance to make my life better. He smiled, the love for her oozing from his pores, as he  watched her take the bouquet from him.
Perhaps it's better that I accept him, take him as he takes me so willingly. He loves me, can't go on without me.
So why do I feel so empty?
David placed an arm around her shoulders as he lightly kissed her cheek.
Once upon a time, she wanted more in Life. No one to dictate to her who and what she was supposed to be. After ten years of abuse from her last boyfriend, she walked out with only the clothes on her back and a bottle of seltzer water. That was then. This is now.
David whispered his love in her ear, his beard tickling her skin. She looked away, wanting to be . . . anywhere else.
Perhaps it's better for me to settle down at this point, she thought as they walked down the street to their local tea shop. She could still travel to Uruguay, like she promised herself all those years ago. She obtained her passport so that she could visit that country. She looked up websites, purchased many travel guides, tried to learn the languages spoken there. And then she met David. And the passport got shelved.
I want to love him, she thought. I DO love him. Yes. I do. He loves me. Isn't that enough?
They reached the tea shop. David held the door open for her as she walked in.
Perhaps it's better. They looked at the tea menu, as they did every Thursday. She knew he would order a Darjeeling, while she would order a Dragonwell. She looked at the flowers then the door.

Perhaps it's better for her will to slowly go away.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Too Much of a Good Thing

(White Sands National Monument - New Mexico - 2015)

Erica took a deep breath, followed by another and another. She had finally done it. She left him for good. She grabbed her luggage from the terminal and made her way outside into the bright New Mexico day. It had been two years since she last visited the Land of Enchantment. Two years too long. She quickly located her rental car and drove off towards her hotel in Albuquerque. As she drove along, her mind unfortunately dredged up memories of Samuel. How, at the beginning of their relationship, he was so sweet to her. He purchased books and video games for her, took her out for meals, even tried to pay her bills as she repeatedly told him no.
"I love you," was his response to her smiling protests. "When I first met you, I knew we were meant to be together." For the first year, Erica felt higher than Heaven whenever he looked at her. Then, one day, he wanted to know her whereabouts when she arrived home an hour later than normal. She laughed and called him Mom, to which he claimed that it was only for her protection. Whereabouts first, then came constant phone calls. At one point, he even followed her to make sure she was really did have a lunch date with her friend rather than meeting up for some nefarious purpose. When six months of that passed by, Erica told him she wanted to break up. He refused.
Erica sighed as she continued to drive along, wondering if he could actually feed himself now that she was gone from his life. He was a delicate creature, too delicate for the world to handle. She made the plans on a friend's computer and claimed that her employer wanted her to begin a new project as a cover up. When the plane began its ascent, Erica allowed her body to sink into the seat. She soon reached her hotel, checked in, then found her room. One luxurious room for one woman. She took in her surroundings, plush and of the Southwest, then leapt into her bed and sighed. She closed her eyes, only to open them when her phone received a text message. Thinking it to be her friend and escape accomplice, she turned on her phone and almost threw up.

Found a flight at 3:30.
Thanks for getting our room.
Love you. See you soon.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Day in the Life . . . .

(Bluff City Coffee - Memphis, 2017)

He watched, as he always did, from the comfortable corner of the tea shop. She was beautiful. Jacob glanced around, hoping that no one eyed him as a creepy white guy for staring at her, then glanced down at his cup of now cold tea. For the past three weeks, he savoured his simple cup of Earl Grey on his lunch break, a moment to get away from his hum drum corporate job. He would always eat first before everyone else did, then rush to the tea shop down the street for some quiet time. Jacob hated talking with people, hated the small talk that people tried so desperately to engage in when they had nothing else in common. The tea shop owner and his wife always enjoyed seeing Jacob and they respected his quiet side. They knew he was an introvert without having to ask him, and so gave him his tea with little conversation yet with many smiles. And, right on the dot at 12:06 pm, the woman walked in to the tea shop to get her daily cup of matcha. The first time he saw her, he was literally stunned by her beauty. He wondered if perhaps he shouldn't look at her the way he did yet he couldn't help himself. Although he'd only dated three women in his overall life of 48 years, this was the first time he'd ever found an African American woman to be so attractive. Maybe it was the way she carried herself, or perhaps it was her burnt caramel skin that he dreamt of lightly touching as they sat in front of a cozy fireplace one cold night. He sighed then sipped on his cold tea as she ordered her matcha then linger around. He gazed at her over the rim of his cup, only to feel like fainting when her eyes met his. She locked on to his gaze, making sure he couldn't look away, as she raised a hand in greeting and smiled. Jacob, not knowing what to do aside from hide under the table, raised a hand as well and smiled back. Just then, she received her order. She smiled again then left the tea shop, allowing Jacob to release his breath in relief. She was even more beautiful than ever, yet a creeping dread slowly crawled over him as the mere thought of saying hello to her was like Death. He could talk to his rare book collection, lovingly caressing the spines and breathing in the scents of vanilla and memories. They, thankfully, never talked back. He finished off his cup of tea then made his way to the counter to drop the cup off. She smiled at me, he thought to himself as he slowly returned to his job. She smiled at me. I can't ever go back to that place. The memory of her smile continued to linger while he resumed his work in his corner office, as he began to cry inside.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Multicoloured Bard

I met him through a love of tea, of course. He seemed to be at peace with the world and didn't care if anyone thought him to be strange looking. Bright clothes that were mismatched, hair dyed a bright colour, adorned with jewelry and a smile that could light up a room. I didn't think he was crazy, only just a wandering soul. He told me a strange story about an experience he had in a ditch and even to this day, I still think about it. Did he, perhaps, tap into something we've always dreamt about? Or, did he come from the Other side to see what we had that makes us happy? When I saw him a second time, I was surprised that he remembered me, for I remembered him all too well. I gave him another cup of tea and he went on to enjoy the day in his way. Before we'd actually spoken, I first saw him set up in a park, carrying on with his life as though the rest of the world didn't exist. All he had were his belongings and perhaps those who protected him from the true evils of the world. When I first saw him, I wanted to know why he loved colours so much. I see people milling about with a glassy eyed look, going through the motions with dreams of that coffee drink on Friday after work. When you bump into them, they slowly acknowledge you and shuffle off, or they look as though they just woke up. These people would probably give the multicoloured bard a dollar then walk off with thoughts of him already dissolved from their minds. Or not.